Buidling Dreams Together


Martin Odegaard: Charting the Norwegian’s Rise at Arsenal

Arsenal have announced that Martin Odegaard has signed a new long-term contract that takes his time with the club to 2028. As captain, and one of the most influential figures in Mikel Arteta’s squad, it is a significant boost to the club to have him tied down for the foreseeable future.

It has been a meteoric rise for the Norwegian international who has grown from the wonderkid label he was assigned as a teenager when he moved from the quiet surroundings at Stromsgodset to the biggest club in the world Real Madrid. At Arsenal, he has managed to grow and successfully fulfil the potential that many of the world’s leading clubs saw in him as a schoolboy.

Odegaard celebrates for Arsenal (Credit: Stuart MacFarlane)

This article will analyse the different stages Odegaard has been through on his journey from January transfer window loanee to leading the Arsenal side out on Champions League nights:

Winter 2021 Loan Signing: Adding Much-Needed Creativity to Arteta’s Squad

Odegaard first signed for Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid as the Gunners were crying out for a midfielder to help thread the needle in attack. Mesut Ozil had been frozen out of the squad earlier that season and the only glimmer of hope was provided by academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe to spark a dire attack into life.

In stepped 22-year-old Odegaard who had found himself out of favour at Real Madrid and he felt like he had to move on in the January transfer window to reinvigorate his career. That half-season loan spell saw him score a goal in a North London Derby and provide a shot in the arm into Arsenal’s attack.

One of his standout performances was against West Ham when the Gunners came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and Odegaard influenced that comeback heavily.  A mediocre Gunners side would go on to finish 8th in the Premier League whilst also being knocked out by former manager Unai Emery’s Villareal side at the semi-final stage of the Europa League.

Highlights focused on Martin Odegaard’s role in comeback against West Ham (Credit: Arsenal)
Summer 2021 Signing Permanently: Ever-growing Importance in the Arsenal Midfield

In the summer transfer window of 2021, Arsenal’s priority signing in attacking midfield was Odegaard despite links with the likes of Emi Buendia and James Maddison.

After waiting for the green light from Madrid all summer for his availability the North London side eventually sealed the signing of the Norwegian to add to the young core, they were trying to establish that summer.

The start of the season had not gone to plan after three losses in a row, however, the Gunners gained some momentum and managed to put together a run of form to catapult them into the Champions League qualification territory but would go on to miss out to bitter rivals Tottenham. Odegaard would feature in every Premier League game that he was available that season scoring seven goals and providing four assists. It was clear to see how highly Arteta thought of the playmaker’s work rate as well as his technical ability. In March 2022 the Arsenal manager discussed Odegaard’s importance to his side: “He’s phenomenal to work with. He’s developing areas of his game that we discussed that he agreed, and that we believed could help him impact matches in a much more powerful way.”

Martin Odegaard in action for Arsenal in the 2021/22 season (Credit: Stuart MacFarlane)
Summer 2022 Arsenal Captain: Establishing Himself as One of the Best Players in the Premier League

With club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being banished and stripped of the captaincy in the previous season, vice-captain Alexandre Lacazette took up the mantel of leading the side for the rest of the 2021/22 season. However, it was clear to see that the club had progressed beyond the needs of the French number 9, and he was allowed to move on that summer. Due to this Arteta was already searching for a new captain for the new season and he chose to select someone who represented the key values that he has tried to instil into the squad of hard work, technical superiority and representing Arsenal well.

By choosing a 23-year-old Odegaard, Arteta showed that he is focused on building a squad that will be together for years, whose captain is still growing with those around them instead of passing the torch to one of the older leaders in the team.

Odegaard adjusting the captains armband (Credit: Stuart MacFarlane)

It may go down as one of the best decisions he has made in his short managerial career as Odegaard kicked on to obscene levels in 2022/23 with a supporting cast in attack of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and new summer signing Gabriel Jesus.

Odegaard provided eight assists and scored 15 non-penalty goals, a record for an Arsenal midfielder and found himself chosen in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Season. The Nordic footballer’s ability on the ball, to orchestrate attacks and finish off moves was world class and he performed outstandingly throughout the year as Arsenal captain.

Martin Odegaard’s Premier League highlights (Credit: @PremierLeague)

The Norwegian international helped propel the Gunners from Europa League regulars to title challengers and is now leading this Gunners’ side that has so much potential in the Champions League, back in Europe’s elite competition. Odegaard’s talent will now shine brightly on the world’s biggest stage, and he has been carrying the torch that will hopefully ignite the club’s flame above all others on the domestic or European front in the years to come.